Misconceptions about Cancer
Dr. Wasek Faisal
MBBS, MPhil (UK) DipPallMed (Aus), FRACP (Aus)
Central Coast Cancer Centre, Sydney, Australia
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A vast amount of information about cancer is available on the internet and through other sources. Unfortunately, some of it can be misleading or inaccurate. The inherent fear and uncertainty that comes with a cancer diagnosis is often responsible for patients and their families relaying on unsubstainted claims and it the process, spending valuable time energy and money without any significant gain this article tries to address some of these common misconceptions about cancer and its treatment. While some of these might or might not be relevant for the Bangladeshi cancer population, the take home message is, the best source of information regarding cancer is, in most cases, the Oncologist and other health care professional caring for the patients.
MYTH: Cancer is contagious
Not cancer is contagious (capable of spreading from person to person through contact). However, some cancer are caused by viruses. The human papillioma virus (HIV) is a sexually transmitted disease that increases the risk of developing cervical, anal and some types of head neck cancers. Other viruses, such as hepatitis B and hepatitis C, which are transmitted by infected intravenous needles and sexual activity, increase the risk of developing liver cancer.
MYTH: A cancer diagnosis is a death sentence
Cancer treatment greatly reduces the risk of cancer spreading, prolongs survival and, in many cases, cures the cancer. Cancer survival is influenced by factor such as the types of cancer, how early it was diagnosed, access to treatment, as well as a person’s age, fitness and medical history. Approximately 65% of people diagnosed with cancer in developed countries will still be alive in year’s time, and a number of common cancers have survival rates of 80% or greater.